Photo: AMNHR. Mickens
Imaging having fresh lettuce and herbs available any day, any season. That usually seems like a pipe dream in the tiny fourth-floor walk up apartments of New York, but Brooklyn-based start up Windowfarms says you can have it all — by growing plants vertically in your windows.We previously introduced you to the windowfarms idea back in May of 2011, when they were just training people to make window gardens using plastic bottles.
The Brooklyn-based company has expanded their operations and even created a commercial product — a set of four vertically hanging pots and the water system to grow plants will set you back $179.
You can buy your own set of windowfarms at their website. We saw the planters in action as an installation in the new American Museum of Natural History exhibit Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture. There, we talked to Britta Riley and got the scoop on the planters.
The garden display holds 280 plants a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The exhibit opens November 17, 2012 and runs until August 11, 2013.
Windowfarms are vertical gardens designed to grow food year-round in your home. Windows provide the light and the warmth inside keeps the plants happy all year long.
Hydroponic systems do not use soil. The plants are grown in water with organic material holding it together. Here a stevia plant is grown in rock wool.
In the Windowfarms system, nutrient rich water is continuously pumped up from a reserve. The water travels to the top plant then goes down from one container to the next. The water nourishes the the plant roots until it reaches the reservoir and repeats the journey.
The roots of a hydroponic plant are more compact, growing hairy and dense, making small-space farming easier. The pots, shown here by Riley, can grow tons of food, red oak lettuce in this case.
After the windowfarm is set up, the maintenance is easy. You only have to tend to your plants, change the water once a week, and clean the system monthly. Here's Riley talking about the set up at the museum's press preview event.
A timer runs the pump in 15 minute intervals, reducing the amount of electricity used. The food you grow may off set any increase in your electric bill and may save you money in the end. Here Riley hands us a leaf of dino kale grown in the system for taste testing. It was great!
Plants that grow really well in a hydroponic system include leafy greens, herbs, and even things like strawberries, peas, and squash.
Windowfarm instructions are available on their website, and their online community of over 38,000 people around the world share their experiences and knowledge.
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